In my first post in the Test-Driven Business (TDB) series, I took the liberty of being a little provocative, placing Planning after Ideation and Implementation as one possible way in which the three phases could be sequenced. This arrangement is illustrated in Figure 1.
Figure 1: Cultivation Culture
Obviously, Planning could precede Implementation and it might precede Ideation. The reason for my provisionally placing it last was to draw attention to the complicated interrelationship between the three phases, to the fact that in today’s markets linear order between the three can’t really be taken for granted. As a matter of fact, I would contend that sharp scholars have been observing that the order is not necessarily linear for some twenty years now. Witness, for example, the following excerpt from Mintzberg’s The Rise and Fall of Strategic Planning:
So planning, again always in the formal sense, cannot do much more than extrapolate the known trends of the present. That is why Weick concluded that “Plans seem to exist in the context of justification more than in a context of anticipation. They refer more to what has been accomplished than to what is yet to be accomplished.”
If you accept Mintzber’s premise, placing Planning after Ideation and Implementation is quite natural. If Planning indeed is justification for what has been accomplished through implementation, placing it last in Figure 1 makes perfect sense. I would go as far as saying that a company that places Planning last might actually be more in touch with the harsh realities of corporate life than a company that places it first or second.
One could actually characterize corporate cultures – in the sense defined and elaborated by William Schneider – according to the order of three phases. Figure 1 could be thought of as Cultivation culture; Figure 2 can be thought of as characterizing the Control culture; Figure 3 as Competence culture; etc.
Figure 2: Control Culture
Figure 3: Competence Culture
The plot thickens, so to speak, when one considers (in addition to the order of the phases) how the two strands within each phase are carried out – sequentially or in an overlapped manner. By combining the order of the phases with the way the strands within each are merged, we get deeper insights as to the nature of the corporate culture. I will explore the descriptive power of so doing in my next post in this series.